Bob Hoelscher

May 15, 2017 Update – Group Cruise News

 
 

Bob Hoelscher
Published May 16, 2017

Welcome!  I’m currently at sea, sailing north from Seattle and heading for Alaska aboard Holland America Line’s Oosterdam, a ship that I know well, having crossed the Pacific on her two years ago.  On this trip, our itinerary includes Juneau, the massive Hubbard Glacier in Yakutat Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan, plus the famed “Inside Passage” and an evening in Victoria, B.C., on the southbound leg.  The vessel now features “America’s Test Kitchen” programming in its Culinary Arts Center, as well as a new “Music Walk.”  However, since the voyage is just now beginning, I’d like to concentrate in this GCN Update on the delightful six-night barge cruise I enjoyed in late April on France’s Marne Canal from Paris to Epernay aboard CroisiEurope’s Raymonde.  Although both provided rewarding experiences, traveling on this charming, 22-passenger vessel, built in 2014, was quite a contrast to the almost 100,000-ton Koningsdam and her 2,500+ guests on which I has crossed the Atlantic the previous week.  Raymonde’s cabins are expectedly compact, but they are quite comfortable once one “settles in” and discovers that there is good storage space, plus the bathrooms are actually larger than some I have found aboard ocean-going ships.  There were only 14 guests, however, representing the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and the U.S, aboard this first-of-the-season Raymonde trip…and with the six crew members, the 20 of us soon melded into a quite congenial ‘family.’

 

Food (continental breakfast buffet, multi-course ‘set’ menus for lunch and dinner) was very good, service was excellent, and Mother Nature blessed us with bright, sunny weather, although it was a bit chilly and windy during the first two or three days, so jackets were required to stay comfortable on the outside decks or on tour.  Everything is included save for crew gratuities, so there is no extra charge for all shore excursions, open bar throughout, plus the numerous French wines and cheeses served with meals.  Needless to say, the French countryside is absolutely beautiful, with picturesque homes, villages, vineyards, farms and golden fields of rapeseed lining the canal along the way, and numerous small locks and a few historic tunnels to transit.  A big difference between trips on a canal and typical European river cruises on the Rhine, Danube, Rhône, etc., is that on the latter, the locks and waterways themselves are much larger, thus so is the size of the cruise vessels, plus there is far, far more commercial traffic on the rivers.  It actually was a rarity to encounter other boats on the canal, except for local youngsters practicing their kayaking skills during the pleasant spring days.

 

After a guided tour of Paris featuring the city’s unique covered walkways, itinerary highlights included lovely Lagny-sur-Marne, the handsome city and cathedral of Meaux, plus an opportunity to learn about and sample the outstanding Brie de Meaux, known as the “King of Cheeses.”  It was so incredibly delicious that I went back for seconds and thirds, and then was too full to eat dinner!  Next were a falconry show and sightseeing in Château Thierry, and from Dormans, home of a magnificent World War I Memorial, we toured the ancient hilltop village of Châtillon-sue-Marne, saw countless vineyards extending far into the distance from virtually every perspective, and visited Hautvillers, the “Birthplace of Champagne,” where Dom Perignon himself is buried.  Finally, in Epernay, we toured the cellars of a major Champagne house…one of the literally hundreds of wineries we passed on the famed “Champagne Route” and other area roads…and embarked on an excursion to Reims for a tour of this historic city and its storied cathedral, where French kings were traditionally crowned.  On the morning of our seventh day, a return transfer was provided to Paris, where groups should also plan to include a multi-night hotel stay to allow ample time to explore one of the world’s greatest and most photogenic cities.  Look for more details on both my Raymonde and Oosterdam cruises in the pages of The Group Travel Leader within the near future.

 

P.S.  My apologies for getting this update out to readers a day late, as internet access aboard Oosterdam has been too poor to allow loading GCN onto the Group Travel Leader website.

 

 

American Queen Steamboat Company has announced early booking savings on selected 2018 departures when reservations are made by July 31, 2017.  Savings up to $1,500 per stateroom are available on American Queen, up to $1,000 on American Empress, and up to $2,400 per suite on the new American Duchess, which is an all-suite vessel.  www.aqsc.com/

 

Avalon Waterways, after unveiling two new 36-guest “Suite Ships” on the Irrawaddy and Mekong Rivers in Southeast Asia within two years, has announced plans to cruise farther into the Far East by increasing its fleet with another “Suite Ship,” Avalon Saigon, for the Mekong River.  In other news, Avalon has announced that Diana Gabaldon, author of the bestselling Outlander novels, as well as godmother to Avalon Tapestry II, will host an “Author Cruise” with the line on the June 5, 2018, departure of its “Legendary Danube” itinerary.  Also, the company has waived the single supplement on every European river cruise departure, as well as on select departures on the Mekong and Irrawaddy.  Finally, Avalon has planned 16 festive Christmas cruises, inviting travelers to enjoy Central Europe’s Christmas markets while sailing the waterways of the continent for five to 15 days.  www.avalonwaterways.com/

 

Carnival Cruise Line, for the second consecutive year, has earned both the Program Innovator Award and Green Gateway Partners Award from the Port of Seattle, honoring the line’s commitment to environmental stewardship.  The award was recently presented at the port’s Cruise Annual All Agency Pre-Season Reception, held at the World Trade Center on the Seattle waterfront.  In other news, officials from Carnival and the Bahamian government signed an agreement on May 2 during a ceremony in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, for the construction of a new cruise port facility to be funded and operated by the line on the island. The as-yet-unnamed planned port will be the largest purpose-built cruise facility ever constructed in The Bahamas, with features including a one-mile stretch of beach; food, beverage and shopping outlets; plus an array of water-based amenities and other recreational facilities.  The port will feature a pier capable of accommodating two of Carnival’s largest ships simultaneously, and is expected to eventually host up to a million guests annually.  Next, Carnival is now offering guests an opportunity to pre-purchase Wi-Fi packages on the company’s website prior to their cruise.  The pre-purchase option is currently available for two ships, Carnival Vista and Carnival Fascination, with fleetwide rollout expected by mid-summer.  With this option, fully booked guests can select from Carnival’s social, value and premium Wi-Fi packages through the “manage my booking” tab on carnival.com.  Guests must purchase an internet package that covers the entire duration of their cruise when purchasing online; daily packages will continue to be available for purchase once on board.  www.carnival.com/

 

Celebrity Cruises’ Casino Loyalty Rewards Program has debuted a new and improved Blue Chip Club, boasting a variety of new benefits, including free slot-play, internet packages, specialty dining and spa credits, as well as a variety of other onboard and shore side bonuses to reward both casual and serious casino players.  In other news, Celebrity has announced a two-year partnership with Malala Fund, the mission of which is to secure 12 years of safe, free, quality education for every girl.  Inspired by Malala’s mission and advances in furthering girl’s education, Celebrity has named 19-year old Nobel Laureate and U.N. Messenger of Peace Malala Yousafzai as the Godmother of its newest ship, Celebrity Edge, debuting late in 2018.  Also Celebrity Constellation entered drydock last week, and is scheduled to emerge on May 26, fitted with a number of new venues, including the line’s popular restaurant Qsine, a new Top Deck Burger Bar, Rooftop Terrace, “Taste of Film” experience, suite enhancements and new shops.  www.celebritycruises.com/

 

CroisiEurope has introduced two new ships to its fleet…the Symphonie II on the Danube and Rhine, and the Miguel Torga on the Douro.  A third vessel is coming in June, and the fourth and fifth will be making their debut in Siem Reap in August, followed by Kasane in December.  In other news, the US Tour Operators Association has welcomed CroisiEurope as its newest Active Member.  Finally, the line is promoting the 500th anniversary this October of the Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses.  The line’s all-inclusive Elbe River cruise, traveling between Berlin and Prague, has availability on departures from July through November that are priced from $3,495 per person.  Cruise highlights include guided tours of Berlin, the Bohemian city of Litomerice, and Prague; visit to the gardens at the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, the porcelain factory of Meissen, and the restored city of Dresden; the natural and architectural wonders of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, straddling Germany’s Saxony and the North Bohemian region of the Czech Republic; plus a day in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, the birthplace of the Reformation, to visit Martin Luther’s home, a former Augustinian monastery which is now the Reformation Museum and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  www.croisieuroperivercruises.com/

 

Crystal Cruises has announced the promotion of 22-year Crystal veteran Toni Neumeister to Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, responsible for all hotel, food and beverage, entertainment and land programs for Crystal’s expanding operations.  The appointment follows the resignation of company Chief Operating Officer Thomas Mazloum, who has departed to pursue another opportunity outside of the cruise industry.  Crystal has also appointed industry veteran Susan Robison to the position of Director of Global Public Relations.  Robison, who has specialized in corporate communications and brand ambassadorship, primarily with travel and lifestyle companies, as well as cruise lines, will be based in Crystal’s Miami office and report to Angela Composto, the line’s Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations.  www.crystalcruises.com/

 

On April 29, Disney Cruise Line’s 2,713-passenger Disney Wonder transited the Panama Canal as the first passenger vessel to go through the canal’s new set of locks, marking a milestone for the cruise industry.  During the fall of 2018, DCL will sail on new itineraries and to new ports, including first-time visits to Bermuda and Quebec City, Canada, both with multiple- day stays.  The two, seven-night sailings between New York and Quebec City depart in September and will also call on Halifax, Saguenay and Baie-Comeau.  In addition, three departures from New York will take guests to Walt Disney World and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.  www.disneycruise.disney.go.com/

 

Emerald Waterways is offering its most popular Asia river cruise, a 16-day “Highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia” itinerary, with free air fare when booked by August 31, as well as a “Two Fly for the Price of One” offer on its eight to 12-day tours.  In other news, the line has taken delivery of three innovative “Star-Ships”—Emerald Destiny, Emerald Liberté, and Emerald Radiance—bringing its total fleet to seven.  Each of these three new state-of-the-art ships was built to follow the design specifications of its already successful fleet, and customized to sail a variety of Europe’s most-iconic rivers.  The 186-passenger Emerald Destiny was christened on May 9 in Vienna by Godmother Coleen Christie, a well-known Canadian broadcaster. Destiny is the river cruise line’s fifth ship to sail through the heart of Europe on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.  www.emeraldwaterways.com/

 

Holland America Line’s Westerdam underwent an extensive dry dock in April, during which many new facilities were added.  Included are ‘EXC’ (“Explorations Central”); “Rijks@Sea;” a Gallery Bar; suite upgrades; “America’s Test Kitchen;” a “Music Walk” featuring Billboard Onboard, Lincoln Center Stage and B.B. King Blues Club; the Lido Restaurant rebranded as Lido Market; iTV’s added to staterooms; plus 25 new staterooms.  In other news, HAL received its seventh consecutive Green Gateway Award on April 20.  The Port of Seattle presents these awards annually to cruise and commercial lines that call at the port and whose environmental efforts are deemed worthy of recognition.  Next, in 2017, the line is celebrating its 70th year of Alaska exploration by planning special experiences and events that will take place on every Alaska cruise and on its Land+Sea Journeys.  I haven’t yet heard what is being scheduled for my week aboard Oosterdam, but stay tuned!  Also, HAL has introduced a new Elite Beverage Package featuring premium beverage selections, defined as any premium spirits, cocktails, wines, beers, coffees, nonalcoholic beverages, bottled water and sodas up to a value of $15 each.  On Koningsdam, the package also includes the Coca-Cola Freestyle program, where guests can enjoy more than 100 Coca-Cola flavors. The price for the package is $54.95 per person, per day.  Bottoms up!

 

Furthermore, HAL has unveiled new culturally immersive “Signature Experiences” for select 2018 cruise itineraries departing from Montréal, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Rome and Venice.  Each pre-cruise “Signature Experience” includes an evening event, two-night luxury hotel stay and transfers. Guests who book suites on eligible cruises receive the Signature Experiences on a complimentary basis, but space is limited and reservations are required.  Next, on April 27, HAL observed King’s Day to celebrate the official birthday of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, and to celebrate the company’s Dutch heritage with shipboard celebrations throughout its fleet.  In addition to decorating its vessels with touches of orange, the Dutch national color, menus offered Dutch-themed food and beverage options, and shipboard festivities were centered around the holiday.  Elsewhere, guests on HAL’s Alaska Land+Sea Journeys will be able to shop at an exclusive new Filson “pop-up” store at Denali Square this summer.  Located at the McKinley Chalet Resort in Denali National Park, Filson’s first Alaska outpost is featuring a variety of items that are reportedly ideal for guests on the company’s overland adventures.  Seattle-based Filson has been a premier Pacific Northwest outdoor outfitter since 1897.

 

The line is also changing the way that guests digitally access shipboard experiences and information across the fleet, with the launch of “Holland America Line Navigator,” a free, mobile-friendly tool.  Navigator does not need to be downloaded in advance, does not require an internet connection, and works on the browsers of most personal devices including phones, tablets and laptops.  Using Navigator, guests can plan their daily activities, explore and book shore excursions, view restaurant menus and make dining reservations, view spa treatments, connect to paid internet and look at their shipboard account balance.  Next, HAL has announced Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter India.Arie; motivational speaker and fitness evangelist Angela Davis; and author, activist and speaker Glennon Doyle Melton will join Oprah Winfrey and O, The Oprah Magazine editors Lucy Kaylin, Gayle King and creative director Adam Glassman aboard the line’s “Share the Adventure Alaska Cruise” departing on July 15.  Guests aboard the cruise will have the opportunity to hear from these celebrities, who will share inspirational ideas and tips for living life to the fullest.  www.emeraldwaterways.com/

 

Mayflower Tours is welcoming Michel Madjerich as the companys’ new Sales Manager located in the Southeast.  Madjerich will assume the role of liaison to group accounts in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida.  She has over 15 years of travel industry experience working for several top travel providers, including Scenic River Cruises, Delta Vacations, and Celebrity Cruises.  Mayflower has also announced the promotion of Nish Patel to President, effective immediately.  Patel, a 31-year hospitality industry veteran, has spent the past 17 years at the company, where he has been chief operating officer of the company, and previously chief information officer.  www.mayflowertours.com

 

On May 1, MSC Cruises announced the opening of sales for MSC Bellissima, the second mega cruise ship of the company’s Meraviglia generation of ships. Beginning in March, 2019, MSC Bellissima will cruise the Western Mediterranean for its inaugural season.  Sales of MSC Bellissima were initially opened exclusively to MSC Voyagers Club members, and opened earlier today for all other guests.  In other news, MSC has big plans for the coming winter season, offering the most comprehensive range of winter cruising options in company history. The expanded offerings are part of a milestone year for MSC Cruises, with two new next-generation ships coming into service in 2017 alone.  MSC Meraviglia, arriving next month, will spend the winter in the Mediterranean, and MSC Seaside, debuting in December, will homeport in Miami and sail the Caribbean.  MSC Fantasia will introduce 7 and 14-night cruises in the Southern Caribbean from Martinique and Guadeloupe, and MSC Orchestra  will offer a new series of 10, 11 and 12-night Mediterranean sailings with the convenience of four ports of embarkation, including Genoa, Marseille, Barcelona and Civitavecchia.  MSC will also have four ships based in South America for the winter season.  MSC Preziosa and MSC Magnifica will offer cruises of up to seven nights from Santos/São Paulo (Brazil); MSC Poesia will offer longer eight and nine-night cruises from Buenos Aires; and MSC Musica will offer a range of cruises from Rio de Janeiro.  Finally, MSC will continue to offer its United Arab Emirates cruises from two embarkation ports, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, for the first time aboard MSC Splendida.  www.msccruisesusa.com/

 

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced a partnership with Scuderia Ferrari Watches as a part of the entertainment and activities on board its soon to-be-unveiled, 3,850-passenger Norwegian Joy, the company’s first purpose-built ship for the Chinese market.  Norwegian took delivery of the 167,725–gross-ton vessel in late April during a ceremony at the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany.  Secondly, the line will begin employing certified lifeguards at all of the family pools across their fleet. The first responders will be trained and certified by the American Red Cross in lifesaving rescue measures and will monitor the family pools during scheduled pool hours. The lifeguards will begin service this summer on the line’s four largest ships…Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic…and on the remainder of the fleet by early, 2018.  In addition to uniformed lifeguards, Norwegian will also begin offering complimentary swim vests for both adults and children on the four largest ships.

 

Next, details are emerging for the entertainment planned for Norwegian Bliss, the line’s sixteenth ship, which will sail to Alaska and the Caribbean beginning in June, 2018.  Featured will be the 2006 Tony Award winner for “Best Musical,” Jersey Boys; a completely new show created by Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Warren Carlyle on the ship’s main stage, the Bliss Theater; plus a new comedy club and nightlife venue and a new theatrical cocktail hour experience, “Happy Hour Prohibition-The Musical.”  On May 2, Norwegian Sky, the line’s first ship to sail to Cuba, made her maiden call in the capital city of Havana.   Company executives were onboard to celebrate the voyage, including Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings President & CEO Frank Del Rio and Norwegian Cruise Line President & CEO Andy Stuart.  The call was the first of Norwegian Sky’s weekly roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba.  The ship is currently scheduled to sail a total of 53 four-day voyages to Cuba, with all but one including an overnight stay in the historical capital of Havana.  Finally, Norwegian’s “Free at Sea“ promotion has now been extended through June 5. www.ncl.com/

 

On April 24, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. released its 2016 Environmental Report and unveiled its global environmental program, “Sail & Sustain,” in observance of Earth Day.  This program highlights the company’s progress on its global environmental initiatives as well as the company’s environmental objectives, which include increasing sustainable sourcing, minimizing landfill waste, investing in emerging technologies and reducing CO2 emissions. The 2016 Environmental Report provides a look at the company’s initiatives across its operations and the communities where it operates, as well as its continued commitment to environmental stewardship.  In other news, the company announced the launch of a new partnership with Alibaba Group, the world’s largest online and mobile commerce company.  Together the two organizations plan to leverage Norwegian’s expertise in providing cruise and vacation offerings along with Alibaba’s insights into the wants and needs of the Chinese consumer, in order to deliver the cruise industry’s most-customized product for the China market, which Norwegian will enter in June with the introduction of Norwegian Joy, as noted above.  www.nclhltd.com/

 

Oceania Cruises has unveiled its largest collection of tropics and exotics itineraries to-date. Featuring an extensive array of voyages to Asia and Africa, the South Pacific, Australia, Caribbean, Mexico, and South America, they offer a mix of popular destinations, boutique ports and off-the-beaten-path gems.  Overnights and extended port stays allow for added in-depth exploration and immersion into the cuisine, culture, and history of more than 240 ports of call on 75 itineraries, 53 of them new.  www.oceaniacruises.com/

 

Paul Gauguin Cruises has announced that Italian/Canadian celebrity chef Massimo Capra will join Paul Gauguin’s September 23, 2017, “Tahiti & the Society Islands” voyage, for a lecture and culinary demonstrations, along with meet-and-greet photo opportunities.  www.pgcruises.com/

 

Poseidon Expeditions has announced that three internationally renowned photographers will travel with the company on select voyages in 2017 and 2018.  The celebrity photographers who will host seminars and workshops for passengers on these polar journeys are Filip Kulisev, James Balog and David McKay. They will headline an accomplished expedition team of top specialists including scientists, marine biologists, geologists, explorers and historians who regularly accompany each Poseidon departure.  www.poseidonexpeditions.com/

 

Princess Cruises is now promoting a “Red, White & Blue Sale“ on selected cruises from this fall through spring, 2018.  Prices begin at $749, and bookings must be made by July 5.  www.princesscruises.com/

 

Scenic has opened a new dock on Portugal’s Douro River for exclusive use by both the company and its sister operation, Emerald Waterways.  The dock is located in Cais de Maragaia, a historic area of the World Heritage City of Porto, and a five-minute walk to Ribiera Street, one of Porto’s most popular riverfront promenades that is known for its distinctive small alleyways and pastel-hued buildings.  In other news, Scenic has unveiled more features and amenities for its new luxury “Discovery Yacht,” Scenic Eclipse, launching in August, 2018, including an increase to ten dining experiences, a longer vessel, scuba diving opportunities and more, all detailed in three new brochures…“Scenic Eclipse,” “Scenic Discovery Voyages: Europe & The Americas,” and “Scenic Polar Voyages – Arctic and Antarctica.”  Next, the company has appointed Shary Dyer, CTIE, as Vice President of Business Development & Strategic Partnerships.  Dyer comes to Scenic with almost 30 years of travel industry experience, beginning in the offices of Carlson Wagonlit Travel and most recently as VP of Strategic Partnerships/Agency Acquisitions for Travel Leaders Group, where she added $1.3 billion to TLG divisions during her five-year tenure.  Other past experience includes VP of National Sales for Signature, as well as a Sales and Business Development Executive with American Express.  Dyer will be based out of Scenic’s Boston office and can be reached at Shary.Dyer@scenicusa.comwww.scenicusa.com/

 

Seabourn has recently promoted Teresa Haughey to the role of Director, Hotel Services for Hotel Operations and Daniel Putzhammer to Director, Food & Beverage Operations.  Haughey originally joined Seabourn as Chief Purser in 2007, making her way to become Seabourn’s first female Hotel Director.  In 2014, she transferred to the Seattle Hotel Operations team, overseeing efforts to enhance the Housekeeping, Guest Services, and Purser Departments, as well as working closely with Human Resources to enhance crew programs.  Putzhammer joined the crew on Seabourn Legend in 2005 as a bar waiter.  After rising through the ranks, he was promoted to Hotel Director on Seabourn Pride in 2010.  He has worked on all Seabourn ships since then, including most recently as Hotel Director when Seabourn Encore launched in December, 2016.  In other news, the line has announced that it has entered into a Bronze Level Corporate Partnership with the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), which organization’s travel agency members employ over 12,000 travel agents.  Finally, the partnership between Seabourn and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will continue as the line announces new UNESCO Partner Tours at World Heritage Sites across Europe over the cruise season ahead, offering guests privileged access and guide-led exploration.  Available on select Seabourn cruises starting this summer, each UNESCO Partner Tour focuses on an individual UNESCO World Heritage Site selected and protected for its cultural, historical, scientific or other significance to humanity.   www.seabourn.com/

 

Silversea Cruises welcomed VIPs and other distinguished guests to Port Hercule in Monaco on April 19, for a ceremony marking the christening of the latest addition to its now nine-ship fleet, Silver Muse.  In other news, the line has launched a new group sales program designed to offer more choices, more flexibility and more time for travel professionals to get results.  The upgraded program is available for new group bookings on all 2017 and 2018 voyages.  Features include price protection for 90 days; tour conductor requirements as low as one per nine berths; onboard spending credits of up to $300 per suite, which are protected even if only one suite sails; onboard spending credits now also applicable on Silver ExplorerSilver Discoverer and Silver Cloud expedition voyages; combinability with such promotional programs as “Silver Select,” “Early Booking Bonus” and promotional “Economy Class Air/Business Class Air” rates…in addition to “Venetian Society Savings,” “Extended Voyage Savings” and “Onboard Savings;” one group per ship may be booked per month, per agency; no deposit is required to create the group and a 25% deposit is required to make individual suite assignments.  www.silversea.com/

 

Tauck has announced its European river cruising plans for 2018, which will see the launch of two new itineraries, the debut of two redesigned ships, and added enhancements to the shore excursions featured fleet-wide.  New itineraries include a 14-day “Royal Danube, Berlin & Krakow” and an 11-day “Rhine Enchantment, Milan to Amsterdam.”  The company has also merged two of its itineraries on the Rhône, “French Waterways” and “A Taste of France,” to form a 10-day “Savoring France: Paris, Lyon & Provence” program which includes two nights in Paris and a seven-night Rhône River cruise aboard Emerald.  In other news, Scott Peters was recently named Tauck’s new Small Ship Cruising Specialist, as a direct result of the company’s plans to double its small ship capacity.  In his new role, Peters will be charged with training and educating key travel agents on the company’s portfolio of small ship ocean cruises, leading agency training programs, creating and hosting educational webinars, and representing Tauck at various consumer and industry events.  For most of his 19-year career, Peters served as a Tauck Director on the company’s maritime and European river cruises, while more recently, he worked as a National Account Manager, representing Tauck to travel agents and agencies in the Northwestern U.S.  Finally, Tauck is eliminating the single supplement on its Category 1 European riverboat cabins. The waived supplement applies to every Category 1 cabin on every Tauck riverboat, on every departure of every itinerary.  In all, the single supplement is being waived on over 230 cruise departures for the coming year.  Besides waiving the single supplement on Category 1 cabins, Tauck is also taking $1,000 off the price for solo travelers booking Category 4 and 5 cabins on 47 departures of 16 different river cruises.  www.tauck.com/

 

Viking Ocean Cruises and Fincantieri have signed a memorandum of agreement for the construction of two additional ships, with an option for another two. The newbuilds will be sister ships to the six already ordered or are currently in operation, and will enter Viking’s fleet in 2021 and 2022, respectively.  All will follow the precedent of 47,800 gross tonnage, with accommodations for 930 guests in 465 all-veranda staterooms.  www.vikingcruises.com/

 

Viking River Cruises has announced details of the newest addition to its fleet, Viking Ra.  Recently acquired, the vessel has been stripped down to the steel to undergo a complete renovation that will reflect Viking’s Scandinavian design.  Designed as an intimate sailing experience for just 48 guests, Viking Ra will sail the Nile River on a new Egypt cruise/tour, a 12-day “Pharoahs & Pyramids itinerary scheduled to launch in March, 2018.  www.vikingcruises.com/

 

Windstar Cruises has announces a new “Have You Ever” campaign focusing on a Europe 2017 summer sale, aimed at turning these “never have I evers” into “yes, I haves” with prices beginning at $1,299 per guest.  More than 20 voyages in Northern Europe, Italy, Greece, and the Mediterranean are included in the sale.  Elsewhere, the line, in conjunction with the James Beard Foundation, recently unveiled the full lineup for their “James Beard Foundation Culinary Cruise Collection.”  Offered on eight sailings in Windstar’s portfolio of cruise destinations… including the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean…cruise guests will have a chance to interact and taste creations from James Beard Foundation-selected chefs.  www.windstarcruises.com/